Idris Murphy: The ‘within of things’

The title of Idris Murphy’s latest solo exhibition, ‘The ‘within of things’’ at Alcaston Gallery, alludes to French paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s foundational understanding of the universe. According to the main thrust of Teilhard de Chardin’s gnosis, the universe is not a closed system of static order, but rather a universe in process, constantly evolving towards inflated states of complexity and higher levels of consciousness.

In reference to this exhibition, the artist writes, ‘If asked which artists have had a greater influence on my work, there may be both a long and a short response… Some like John Berger, over many years, have sustained my thinking about painting. Others have had the right phrase that contains a moment where thinking comes close to painting, hence the ‘within of things’ (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin).’

In this new body of work, Murphy takes Teilhard de Chardin’s cosmic vision as his starting point, shaping it into his paintings to create a dialogue with the Australian landscape and the natural order. Commingling associations from memory’s evanescence geled with scenes from his rural surroundings in plein-air style inform these paintings. Images of trees, ancient deserts, shifting weather, rock formations and river banks restore the immediacy of the natural world – away from the contaminating forces of society and the commercial vulgarity of the 21st century.

Idris Murphy, Kimbley Luminosity, 2017, synthetic polymer paint on board, 40 x 40cm. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.

Treading a tremulous line between figuration and abstraction, Murphy creates overlapping planes of colour that combine an unexpected medley of parched mustard yellows, earthy-greens, and swathes of deep blue and magenta. The artist’s compositions and own pictorial language are distinctive for the ways in which pure sensation and narrative, past and present are melded together to create raw and insightful meditations on his native homeland. The ephemeral imaginings of the Australian terrain ultimately express Murphy’s own intimate encounters with the spirituality of place.

Alcaston Gallery
Until 4 November, 2017
Melbourne